What Is This Thing Called Cole? – FORGOTTEN PORTER (IV)

Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday and the continuation of our six-week series on Cole Porter musicals that we’ve yet to cover here on That’s Entertainment! Given that Porter is my first musical theatre obsession and my favorite Broadway composer, we’ve covered quite a lot of his work, but these six shows, spanning from 1928 to 1946, are making their Musical Theatre Monday debuts. So far we’ve covered Paris (1928), La Revue Des Ambassadeurs (1928), and Wake Up And Dream (1929). Today…

 

IV. Gay Divorce (11/29/32 – 07/01/33)

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Perhaps the most successful Porter show to be featured in our latest series, this vehicle for Fred Astaire, who was minus one sister for his Broadway swan song, boasted a cast that included Claire Luce, Eric Blore, Erik Rhoades, Luella Gear and Betty Starbuck and was blessed with one of Porter’s most exciting numbers. The plot, based on an unproduced play, concerned a romance novelist who falls in love with a married woman who’s arranged for her husband to catch her in an affair by hiring an Italian lothario to act as co-respondant. Unfortunately, the woman assumes the novelist is her gigolo and comedic misunderstandings ensue. Porter’s accompanying score was less full than those for her his other book musicals; instead, the principal attraction was the dancing.

The highlight, of course, was the previously alluded to “Night And Day,’ performed by Fred Astaire, who recorded the number with Leo Reisman’s orchestra during the Broadway production and with Ted Lewis’ before he took the show to London the following year (alongside Luce, Blore, and Rhoades). The rendition above is performed by Fred Astaire, who danced the number with Ginger Rogers, in the well known 1934 film adaptation, The Gay Divorcee, which dumped all of Porter’s other songs.

The relative sparseness of the score is probably what’s kept it from appearing on Musical Theatre Mondays before. But, in addition to “Night And Day,” there are a handful of other superb tunes that could easily stand among his finest, including the absolutely astoundingly astute “After You Who?” and the catchy and contagiously cute “I’ve Got You On My Mind.” The latter, above, was recorded by Astaire with Lewis, and the former, below, was recorded by Astaire with Reisman.

Another one of my favorite tunes that never became a sensation is Erik Rhoades’ Italian gigolo’s “How’s Your Romance,” performed below, with the original orchestration, by Thomas Hampson.

And, we’ll end today’s post with the delicious “Mr. And Mrs Fitch,” about a fictitious couple whom Porter had recently turned into society legends by planting false stories detailing their ritzy doings. Here’s the number from the 2000 BBC Radio Broadcast of the Lost Musicals! production. (For access to the full audio of this or a recording of the 1993 Weill Concert Hall production, subscribe and comment below!)

 

 

Come back next Monday for another Cole Porter musical! And tune in tomorrow for the best from the first season of Phyllis!

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21 thoughts on “What Is This Thing Called Cole? – FORGOTTEN PORTER (IV)

  1. This is indeed a lovely and very instructive serie of posts. There is a lot to learn on those unknown Porter songs.

    • Hi, Maleso! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Be sure to check out our past Porter posts as well (and you can do so using the tags). Two weeks from now, we’ll have covered all of his stage scores between PARIS (1928) to AROUND THE WORLD (1946)!

  2. Pingback: Studio Markup | Mary's Monday Matinee

  3. Another wonderful post. Thanks for continuing to showcase these gems. Any chance you could send me both of the recordings you mentioned?

  4. hi jackson-first time ive heard that version of got you on my mind-really liked it and appreciate the quality versions you are finding from these period recordings. would appreciate the 2000 BBC Radio Broadcast of the Lost Musicals! production and recording of the 1993 Weill Concert Hall production

  5. Can I have the Lost Musicals recording and the Weill Concert Hall recording? Thanks Jackson.

    Do you know if Fred Astaire made any other recordings of the score asides from the ones you posted?

    • Hi, Travis! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I have emailed you at your gmail address with access to those two audios.

      Astaire recorded “Night And Day” several times over the course of his career — including in 1932, with Leo Reisman’s orchestra, and again in 1933, with Ted Lewis’ orchestra. He recorded “I’ve Got You On My Mind” in 1932; both an official release and an unused alternate take exist. And then he recorded “After You, Who?” in 1933. The only number Astaire sang in the show that he didn’t record is “You’re In Love.”

  6. Hi, it’s me again Jackson. I confess I’m going back through you’re old Porter postings so I can get the links for the Jubilee and DuBarry Was a Lady audios, but when I landed on this I couldn’t stop myself from asking for the recording of the BBC Gay Divorce production. I swear, I’ll get out of your hair after I’ve finished with these three. As always, thank you for sharing.

      • Jackson,

        Listening to the score countless times, I can’t help but notice there’s a dance after What Will Become of Our England.. however, this particular dance is hard to find information about. Listening to it, it doesn’t seem to have much connection to the other music in the show, and the only connection to any Porter work (while still pretty far fetched and distant) I make right off the bat is When Love Beckoned on 52nd Street. Do you know anything about this dance? Did Porter write this? I can’t seem to find any reference to it anywhere.

        Thanks again!
        Ethan

        • Ethan, I don’t know for sure whether or not Porter specifically wrote the music for that dance, but I do know it was included among the piano/vocal materials AND orchestral arrangements found in the famed Secaucus warehouse. Also, it does sound like a separate melody, but I detect some association with the forthcoming “I’ve Got You On My Mind” and a fragment that was used much later in KISS ME KATE’S “Bianca.” Let me know if you ever find out more!

          • I do hear “I’ve Got You On My Mind,” and I wasn’t quite sure about that. However, I don’t quite see the fragment that’s related to Bianca. Do you kind of see the 52nd Street similarity? Also, do you think this could be related to the songs for which music was found, but no lyric, “Never Give Into Love” (Yale has this as Never Go In for Love) or “In Case You Don’t Know”? I haven’t actually seen the sheet music for either of these, or the dance. It wouldn’t surprise me too much to find out that it was related. Do you have the music for these?
            This would be an interesting one to figure out.

            Ethan

            • It’s possible this utilizes the melody of one of the lyric-less songs Porter wrote for GAY DIVORCE (which have never been recorded or published), but his archive at Yale includes the piano scores for both of the numbers you mentioned, while the dance for “What Will Become Of Our England?” is labeled explicitly as such.

              Also, the relevant “Bianca” fragment is “Package for Miss Lois Lane…”

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